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The Skinny: Company Town, home of the Morning Fix and all the other entertainment news you need is moving to a new neighborhood. Soon -- perhaps even later today -- we will have a new URL. For now, this address will take you to the new home when it is up and running, but if you want to bookmark the new address (you know you do), here it is: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/. Tuesday's headlines include a recap of Fox's schedule announcement, including the additions of Britney Spears and Demi Lovato to "The X Factor," the criminal charges against former News Corp. newspaper executive Rebekah Brooks, and a review of Howard Stern's debut on "America's Got Talent."
Days before it is expected to go to trial for a $1-billion lawsuit on its Call of Duty franchise, Activision Blizzard Inc. cut a $42-million check to several dozen game developers who are suing the company.
The 40 developers, led by Todd Alderman, alleged that Activision failed to pay them royalties for their work on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which launched in November 2009 and has garnered more than $1 billion in revenue for the Santa Monica game publisher.
The payment, intended to compensate the developers for royalties accumulated through the first three months of the game's launch, is in addition to the $22-million "launch bonus" that the company has paid the plaintiffs, bringing the total to $64 million. The payments do not constitute a settlement of the lawsuit.
Attorneys for the developers said Activision's payment doesn't begin to cover what the developers are owed under contracts.
"This is a fraction of the damages and bonuses that they have earned," said Alan Rader, who represents the 40 developers. He said his clients are unmoved by the last-minute payment. "It changes nothing."
Activision declined to comment on the matter.
Activision also faces a separate lawsuit from two lead developers of Modern Warfare 2, Jason West and Vincent Zampella, who claim that the company improperly fired them in 2010 and withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties for the blockbuster Call of Duty franchise that they helped create.
"Forty-two million dollars doesn't buy you a time machine that lets you go back and erase all your bad conduct," said Robert Schwartz, who represents West and Zampella.
The trial is set to open May 29, but Activision is expected to request a 30-day postponement Tuesday so its new trial lawyer, Beth Wilkinson, can get up to speed on the case. Activision hired Wilkinson last week. She is known for delivering the closing arguments that led to the death sentence for Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Daily Dose: As is often the case, there is a proceeding going on at the Federal Communications Commission that's not getting much attention now but could turn out to be a big deal later. The FCC is reexamining how it defines a multichannel video program distributor (what we used to call cable and satellite operators) as well as what constitutes a channel. How the FCC rules could ultimately determine future regulation (or lack thereof) for new content distribution systems via broadband or other digital platforms.
Photo: "The X Factor" judges, from left, L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato, Simon Cowell and Britney Spears at Fox's upfront presentation party on Monday. Credit: Evan Agostini / Associated Press
Getting Foxy. News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting unveiled a fall schedule that includes two new comedies, two new dramas and the addition of Britney Spears and Demi Lovato to Simon Cowell's musical talent show "The X Factor." Fox, which is coming off a season that saw declines in overall viewers and in adults age 18-49, is also planning a makeover for "American Idol" before that show returns in the spring of 2013. Media buyers at Fox's presentation to advertisers seemed pleased with the clips of the new shows. Personally, I was wondering why Spears -- who is said to be getting in the neighborhood of $15 million to join "The X Factor" -- couldn't be persuaded to belt out a tune. Coverage and analysis of Fox's schedule from the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, USA Today, Variety, Vulture and the Hollywood Reporter. One word of advice to Fox: Change the name of "The Mindy Project," the new sitcom starring Mindy Kaling. That title makes it sound like the show is under construction. Find something cuter, like "New, New Girl."
Source of image above, click here. Go hop somewhere else, your goona watch commercials no matter what. In between showing clips of new shows and feeding shrimp and booze to media buyers, the broadcast networks are also using upfront week -- which is where they announce fall schedules to advertisers -- to voice their dissatisfaction with satellite broadcaster Dish Network. The issue isn't static on the screen but a new feature Dish is offering to subscribers. It's called the Auto Hop and it makes it easier to never see a commercial. More on the Auto Hop and why the broadcasters are mad from the Los Angeles Times. In a separate but related story, cable giant Comcast Corp. is working on a way to make a commercial that would show up on screen while a viewer is fast-forwarding through commercials. Now that's dirty play! More on that from Fierce Cable. Click here for a slideshow of the patent diagrams.
Call the lawyer. Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News Corp.'s British tabloids, is going to be prosecuted on charges of "conspiracy to pervert the course of justice," for allegedly hiding material from investigators probing the papers for phone hacking and other ethical lapses. Brooks, who years ago told Parliament that the newspapers had paid police for stories, was informed she would face charges along with her husband Charlie Brooks and several others. Brooks was one of News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch's top executives and close personally to the mogul and his family. Details from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Looking east. News Corp. isn't going to let a little scandal in Britain stop the rest of its global plans. The company, which owns the 20th Century Fox studio, is buying a stake in Bona Film Group, which is a big movie distributor in China. The move is the latest by Hollywood to establish a foothold in China. More from the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.
Quit while you're behind. The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., owner of the Golden Globes Awards, has indicated that it will file an appeal to a decision by a U.S. District Court judge that the TV rights to the show belong to Dick Clark Productions. Although no appeal has been filed yet, the HFPA indicated in a court filing that it plans to do so in the next 30 days. Interestingly, the association said acceptance of the appeal could speed up an out-of-court settlement. Dick Clark Productions, having won once, has indicated that the prospect of striking a new TV agreement with the HFPA is unlikely for now. The story that won't end from Deadline Hollywood.
Don't they want people to see it? The Hollywood Reporter says Paramount Pictures will offer a teaser trailer for the sequel to Will Ferrell's "Anchorman" during screenings of "The Dictator," the latest offering from Sacha Baron Cohen. Having seen something like five different trailers for "The Dictator," I don't think I need to see the movie, In fact, the latest trailer pretty much guaranteed I won't see the movie.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Interim Yahoo CEO Ross Levinsohn brings a mix of old and new media experience to the job. Scott Braun, manager of teen sensation Justin Bieber, is getting into business with Universal Music. Robert Lloyd on Howard Stern's debut on "America's Got Talent."
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-- Joe Flint
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